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Wednesday, Aug 28, 2013


Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure Next Year

Publisher ATLUS and Big Finish Games announce a publishing deal for Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure, the title of the throwback FMV adventure game sequel Kickstarted under the codename Tex Murphy - Project Fedora. "The success of the Tex Murphy Kickstarter proved to us that fans were still out in the world, craving the nostalgic adventure gaming the series is known for," said Ryan Jones, Big Finish Games. "By partnering with ATLUS, we're going to bring the magic of Tex to a global audience in a big way. Their continued support will help us deliver the most exciting Tex Murphy adventure yet." Word is the game will be release for Windows early next year and that it will also be coming to OS X, though they do not say the releases will coincide. The Tex Murphy website offers a semi-recent teaser trailer and should be where to keep up with this project. Continue here to read the full story.

Steam Greenlights 100 Titles

A Steam Greenlight announcement informs us that Valve has given the greenlight to no fewer than 100 new games, boosting the number of titles with publishing deals from the program to 260. It's no accident that so many titles were approved this time, as Valve explains this is the result of how they've been refining the system: "This latest milestone is both a celebration of the progress we've made behind the scenes and a stress test of our systems. Future batches are not likely to be as large, but if everything goes smoothly we should be able to continue increasing the throughput of games from Greenlight to the Steam store." The large list of new games makes it difficult to list them all properly, so they put together this list to help sort this through.

Sony Online Entertainment Layoffs

Sony Online Entertainment has announced layoffs at their San Diego and Austin offices, reports GameSpot. They offer an official statement:

"As part of a strategic decision to reduce costs and streamline its workforce, SOE announced today that it will eliminate positions in both its San Diego and Austin studios," the company said in a statement.

"This strategic alignment of resources better positions SOE to remain a global leader in online games, as well as to align development resources towards our current portfolio of MMOs and the highly-anticipated future installments of the EverQuest franchise, EverQuest Next Landmark and EverQuest Next."

Always Sometimes Monsters Announced

Publisher Devolver Digital and developer Vagabond Dog announce Always Sometimes Monsters, "an unconventional RPG about life, love and the lengths that we will go to find happiness in both" coming to PCs next year. These screenshots and a teaser trailer offers a look at what a comment by Devolver refers to as "one of our favorite little experimental games." The game will be on display this weekend at PAX Prime, and here's the announcement:

TORONTO – August 28, 2013 – Independent developer Vagabond Dog and the consummate professionals of Devolver Digital have announced Always Sometimes Monsters, an unconventional RPG about life, love and the lengths that we will go to find happiness in both. Set to release on PC in 2014, Always Sometimes Monsters aims to explore themes and issues of the modern world where decisions you make affect your life and the lives of those around you.

Players will assume the role of a character out of luck, out of money and on the verge of collapse after learning their beloved is set to marry someone else. Choose from characters of different gender, race, and sexual orientation and set out on the open road to overcome everything and everyone that life throws at you on your way to redemption. Start and end relationships with a colorful cast of characters, make an honest buck or lie for a few more dollars more and deal with friendship and prejudice as you make your way through the modern grind.

Continue here to read the full story.

Steamships Ahoy - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

Steam News announces the release of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, offering a serving of mutant on the half-shell. This is also on GameStop PC Downloads, and here's word:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows takes you back to how it all began. Be the four Turtles Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael in the fight to save New York City from mutants, the Foot and Shredder. With seamless co-op, along with team combo moves and relentless combat, this is the game fans have been waiting for.

Contraption Maker Early Access

Contraption Maker is now available for early access on Steam, offering the chance to check out the construction game on the cheap while it's still under construction. Here's word from the announcement:

The team that created the original Incredible Machine® is bringing all of the Rube Goldberg craziness to the modern age. Buy it now through Steam Early Access.

The final version will have you Solving puzzles involving ridiculous chain reactions full of hamster motors, trampolines, alligators, cats, and so much more. Our Alpha release focuses on the Maker Lab, where you can create your own contraptions. Everything you loved about the original game is back and improved with a new physics engine, high definition art, and new parts and programmability.

F1 2013 Pre-Purchases

Pre-purchases are now underway on Steam for F1 2013, where Codemasters' Formula One racing sequel can be had for 10% off prior to its planned release on October 4th. In addition to the discount, this involves one of those escalating reward systems based on the number of preorders they rack up. They are already close to hitting the first milestone that adds a free copy of F1 RACE STARS to the deal, and the following two tiers will potentially add a 50% off coupon for any Codemasters game on Steam (except F1 2013 Mr. Sneakypants... you're the type who would try to wish for more wishes from the genie) and a free copy F1 2012. Here's a bit on the new game:

Make history in FORMULA ONE™! F1™ 2013 features all the cars, stars and circuits from the 2013 FIA FORMULA ONE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP™ plus, for the first time, classic content. F1 Classics is an expansive new game mode, introduced by legendary broadcaster Murray Walker, in which you’ll race legendary drivers in famous cars on iconic circuits from the 1980s. This classic content can be played in a range of modes including split-screen and online multiplayer.

F1 2013 also features all of the new drivers, team moves, tyre changes and remodelled handling to recreate the thrill of racing 2013’s stunning roster of FORMULA ONE cars. New enhancements, improvements plus new, expanded and returning game modes combine to deliver the most complete simulation of a FORMULA ONE season in videogame history.

Also, available is the F1 2013: CLASSIC EDITION. A premium package which features all the cars, stars and circuits from the 2013 FIA FORMULA ONE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP plus, for the first time in the series, classic content. F1 Classics is an expansive new game mode in which you’ll race legendary drivers in famous cars at iconic circuits from the 1980s.

Wasteland 2 Video

An update on Kickstarter has the latest on Wasteland 2, the upcoming RPG sequel in the works at inXile entertainment. This includes word that the game's first developer diary is now available, though this is only for their backers who are in for $30.00 or more, a sign of strange times for the game industry when you are creating marketing materials exclusively for people who have already bought the game. On a more egalitarian front, they also now offer all visitors a new video that runs over 18 minutes, featuring a demo run-through of the game's prison level. Here's word:

This area was not built purely for demoing purposes and it is a straight video capture. While the level will be further polished and improved (we’re missing a bunch of sounds among other things), it gives you a sense of the final game flow. The level was the winner of an internal competition process (as mentioned last update). This is only a tiny fraction of the game which is very hard to show in a 20 minute update. It represents about 1/3rd of the prison map and isn’t even one of the larger levels, so you can imagine it can be tricky for us to share enough without too many spoilers or overwhelming you.

Another particular focus of the video is showing the game’s progression, which highlights the back-and-forth communication with you, our backers. From the renaming of the characteristics into the CLASSIC acronym to our multiple iterations on the UI based on very direct but very useful feedback from our fans (and it is still customizable to your tastes, for example you can configure the text window depending on how much you want it to show).

Continue here to read the full story.

Back in the Caves Announced

Indie developer Ornitocopter announces Back in the Caves, a roguelike-like game with platformer elements set in prehistoric times. Details are scant for now, but they offer a gameplay-free teaser trailer, and here's a descriptive bit from the description:

As the cavemen’s hero you will have to explore and fight in procedurally generated caves to ensure the survival of your village and humanity itself. Beware as the dark caves aren’t a place for weaklings. Prepare yourself for every insane adventure this game will throw your way. And be prepared to die. Because, you know… you WILL die. Survival of the fittest, right?

Collect a wide range of weapons from the skeletal fingers of unfortunate adventurers and watch them become more powerful with every enemy you kill. Every weapon has a special ability. Use it wisely if you want to survive!

Continue here to read the full story.

Total War Rome II Preloads

Those who have preordered Total War Rome II on Steam can now preload Creative Assembly's strategy sequel in preparation for next week's release. The announcement also stresses that time is running out to get in on the game's preorder incentives:

Pre-Load Total War Rome II now and be ready to play when it releases!

Plus, it's the last chance to pre-purchase and receive The Greek States Culture Pack and the Greek Hellenic Armor for The Pyro, Egyptian Cheetah, the Barbarian Set for the Demo and now the Laurel Wreath for all the classes. The Laurel Wreath unlocks a special "Romebot" invasion in Team Fortress 2's MVM mode.

The award-winning Total War series returns to Rome, setting a brand new quality benchmark for Strategy gaming. Become the world’s first superpower and command the Ancient world’s most incredible war machine. Dominate your enemies by military, economic and political means. Your ascension will bring both admiration and jealousy, even from your closet allies.

On Sale

Evening Patches

Op Ed - Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn Great Game, Poor Service Part One.
Like most MMO launch issues, I do expect that things will be OK within a week, maybe two, and many who stick around will likely chalk this up as a bump in the road months from now, but Yoshida and his team worked incredibly hard to give this game a second chance and it’s incredibly unfortunate that this self-inflicted wound may kill a lot of that momentum. I really hope this isn’t the case, but it’s definitely given me cause for concern.

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Previews

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Link of the Day: Martin Luther King: 'I have a dream' revisited. Thanks Paul.

Borderlands 2 GOTY Announced; Game May Set 2K Sales Record

Gearbox Software announces the Borderlands 2 Game of the Year Edition, a bundle of the first-person shooter/RPG and all its additional content expected for release in North America on October 8th (USD $59.99) and internationally on October 11th. "The success of Borderlands 2 has been tremendous, and the game is on-track to become the highest-selling title in the history of 2K," said Christoph Hartmann, President of 2K. "With the Game of the Year Edition releasing this fall, fans will have the opportunity to get their hands on the most comprehensive Borderlands 2 bundle at an incredible price."

FF14 Sales Suspended Due to Positive Response

The Square Enix Facebook page has word that they have temporarily suspended online sales of FINAL FANTASY XIV: A Realm Reborn due to "the overwhelmingly positive response" the just re-launched MMORPG (thanks Eurogamer). Here's word:

Important Notice About FINAL FANTASY XIV: A Realm Reborn - Due to the overwhelmingly positive response to FINAL FANTASY XIV: A Realm Reborn, we are currently experiencing extremely long wait times for users to be able to log in and play. As a temporary measure, we will halt sales of FINAL FANTASY XIV: A REALM REBORN’s digital download products so we can accommodate all of those wishing to play. We are working to expand our server capacity in the coming days.

We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this causes.

DayZ's Real-Life Survival Inspiration

Wired's Game|Life has the interesting backstory on Dean Hall's real-life experience that inspired his development of DayZ, the Arma II zombie modification that's now in the works as a standalone game. The idea for the survival game came to Hall as he underwent his own ordeal as a cadet in the New Zealand army tasked with surviving in the jungles of Brunei for 20 days on two-days worth of food. Here's a bit:

That night, as water pooled around his bed and ramen roiled his stomach, he imagined himself inside his favorite videogame, a military simulation for PCs called Arma 2. He had been playing it since its release in 2009 and often spent three to four hours a day on the game. Now, lying on the jungle floor, his feverish imagination turned Arma 2 into something different. He visualized a new kind of game, one in which there were no missions, no objectives, and no ability to simply be respawn when killed. You had one life, and if you lost it, you lost everything.

Physically, Hall was a mess when he emerged from the jungle — he underwent emergency surgery for an intestinal blockage. But intellectually, he was energized by his visions and inspired to build a new Arma 2 modification.

Quoteworthy: Activision on Annual Calls of Duty

"The cadence of the releases seems to have found a nice equilibrium with people's appetite," Activision boss Eric Hirshberg told Eurogamer at Gamescom. "There's demand and excitement each and every time out. Then people are playing throughout the year. We have our biggest community of players today. Right now there are more people playing Call of Duty today than ever, which is remarkable for a franchise that's been around as long as Call of Duty has. But, we don't take anything for granted."

Quoteworthy: DICE on Lack of Annual Battlefields

"I think the core Battlefield idea that we're working on at DICE is... We can't build a game at DICE every year," Battlefield 4 executive producer Patrick Bach said during Gamescom according to Videogamer. "You saw with Battlefield 3, for instance, it's not that there's not an urge for more Battlefield. You mentioned Premium – we [had] 18 months worth of Battlefield and people want more things during that time. Now it's been almost two years and people feel like they are continuously playing – we still have huge amounts of players playing Battlefield 3. So I think in general, people apparently want Battlefield all year round."

Op Ed - Afraid someone will steal your idea? Thanks Ant via Slashdot.
Even if your idea is 100% original, the idea alone isn't valuable, it's the work of revealing emergent properties that makes the idea valuable. Taking Bauza's Hanabi example again: For a game that elegant, you know there was a lot of time put into every design decision. With so few mechanics, everything becomes that much more important. How many suits should be in the deck? How many cards of each rank should be in the deck? What's an average score across one hundred games? How do people communicate with each other in play? None of these questions get answered unless the "idea" becomes a reality at the table. There are uncountable emergent properties that just don't reveal themselves until you playtest.

Gatherings & Competitions

Morning Interviews

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Safety Dance

Morning Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews


Out of the Blue

Not long ago I had the misfortune of encountering a Sheriff's car in the oncoming lane moments after completing a pass where two lanes were becoming one, leaving me temporarily further above the speed limit than a lawman's leeway will allow. I tend to be a prudent driver, and this is the first time I've been pulled over in years, but you are not entitled to speed while passing, and he got me fair-and-square. Noting my clean driving record, the Sheriff was sympathetic with my plight, though not enough to prevent him from giving me the ticket, so I have a court date today to pay my debt to society. Typically the court will shave a few miles-per-hour off speeding for the fine, though I'm holding out a sliver of hope this can be knocked down to a non-moving violation.

Speedy Links: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: Sky Freaks.
Build and Destroy Space.
Links: Functional 1/3 Scale Macintosh Replica using a Raspberry Pi. Wow!
Stories: Nissan uses iconoclast Stormtroopers to shill their new car. Thanks brother19.
Science: Infants remember speech heard in the womb.
The “US effect” biases behavioral research.
Images: reddit in Minecraft (on reddit).
Media: Capcom explains Street Fighter 2 characters with stereotypin.
The Funnies: Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.

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